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Symposium Registration

The SAJ as a Civilization: From Radical Vision to Community-Based Innovation | A Symposium for All

Sunday June 12th beginning at 1 PM - Scroll down for more details and to register

Join us for a day-long conference honoring the 100th anniversary of SAJ and exploring the history and influence of the SAJ congregation. In a keynote lecture and three informal panels, the conference participants--comprised of a select group of scholarly experts and congregational stakeholders--will discuss: 1) the central role of SAJ’s founding rabbi, Mordecai M. Kaplan; 2) the historical and spatial context of SAJ; 3) the make-up of SAJ's innovative 'organic' community; and 4) the relationship of SAJ to Reconstructionist Judaism and to American Judaism writ large.

Doors will open at approximately 12:45 PM and brief welcoming remarks and the keynote will begin at 1 PM. Each presentation or panel will last approximately an hour-and-a-quarter, including time for questions, and will be followed by a coffee/refreshment break. Descriptions and times are below.

Welcoming Remarks and Keynote Lecture, "SAJ as the Vision of Rabbi Mordecai M. Kaplan," , 1 PM: -- Dr. Mel Scult has devoted his life to the study of Rabbi Kaplan, perhaps the most significant American rabbi of the 20th century, and will honor our centennial celebration with a keynote lecture on SAJ as the legacy of Kaplan's life and thought.

Panel #1: "SAJ in Time & Space," 2:30 PM: Three prominent scholars of American Jewish history will introduce the conference by placing SAJ into historical-, urban-, neighborhood-, and spatial context.
Panelists: Deborah Dash Moore, Jeffrey Gurock, David Kaufman
Moderator: Ira Schachner

Panel #2: "SAJ as a 'Society,” 4 PM: -- A key aspect of Rabbi Kaplan's thought was the 'reconstruction' of the synagogue as more than a house of worship, as a multi-valent 'organic community.'  This panel brings together longtime members of the congregation and subject experts to discuss how multiple aspects of congregational culture--leadership, education, social life, the arts, political activism, etc.--bind together to form such a complex religious/secular/cultural/intellectual community. Panelists: Ruth Messinger, Rabbi Simkha Weintraub, Judy Marlow, Dan Woods, Herb Kaplan
Moderator: Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann

Panel #3: "SAJ as an 'Advancement in Judaism,” 5:30 PM -- SAJ was the flagship congregation of the Reconstructionist movement--and since Reconstructionism has been so broadly influential in American Jewish theology and religious practice, SAJ can be seen as a seminal influence in the history of American Judaism. Three leading scholars and innovators will explore the liturgical, spiritual, and ideological influence of SAJ, and how its influence continues to mold the tradition.
Panelists: Noam Pianko, Rabbi Deborah Waxman, Hila Ratzabi, Rabbi Michael Strassfeld
Moderator: Rabbi Steve Gutow
Closing Blessing, followed by a Happy Hour Reception, 6:45 – 8 PM

All registrants will receive the Zoom meeting information
Tue, December 5 2023 22 Kislev 5784